WASHINGTON ― The House on Thursday rejected a measure that would have kept the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile online through 2040 and paused development of its replacement for a year while the Biden administration completes its sweeping nuclear posture review.
On Wednesday, the measure’s sponsor, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and its Republican opponents argued over whether the life extension was feasible or cost effective, and whether the new missile is the right response to China’s growing nuclear arsenal. The nascent Ground Based Strategic Deterrent’s been at the center of a drawn-out fight over whether the U.S. needs land-based nuclear missiles in addition to sea- and air-launched missiles.
The House voted 118-299 to defeat the proposal, an amendment to the House’s draft of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. Ninety-six Democrats voted “nay” with Republicans.
House Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chair Mike Turner, R-Ohio, pointed to the Biden administration’s support for the program. The FY22 Pentagon budget request included $2.6 billion for the nascent GBSD, which is being developed for the Air Force by Northrop Grumman.
Garamendi said that, amid the U.S., Russia and China developing new bombs, stealth delivery systems and reliance on space for observation and communications, his amendment was meant to “slow the pace, and to create time for arms control negotiations to move forward.” Garamendi chairs the readiness subcommittee.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.